China’s Zhang Shuai storms into first Wimbledon doubles quarterfinals

China’s Zhang Shuai (L) celebrates with Elise Mertens of Belgium after their third-round doubles win at Wimbledon at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, England, July 4, 2022. /CFP

China’s Zhang Shuai (L) celebrates with Elise Mertens of Belgium after their third-round doubles win at Wimbledon at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, England, July 4, 2022. /CFP

China’s top-ranked tennis veteran Zhang Shuai has reached the women’s doubles quarterfinals of Wimbledon for the first time in her career.

The 33-year-old and Belgian partner Elise Mertens continued their dominant run by swatting aside 15th seeds Raluca-Ioana Olaru and Nadiia Kichenok in third-round action of the showpiece event on Monday.

the no. 1 seeds needed less than an hour to secure their victory over the Romanian-Ukrainian duo, winning 6-4, 6-3 in a largely one-sided affair.

Belgian Elise Mertens (L) and Chinese Zhang Shuai during their third-round women’s women’s doubles clash at Wimbledon at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, England, July 4, 2022. /CFP

Belgian Elise Mertens (L) and Chinese Zhang Shuai during their third-round women’s women’s doubles clash at Wimbledon at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, England, July 4, 2022. /CFP

The Wimbledon breakthrough means Zhang, who suffered an agonizing third-round loss to Caroline Garcia of France in the women’s singles last week, has made it to the women’s doubles quarters at all four Grand Slam tournaments.

It was also Mertens’ ninth consecutive doubles wins at the All England Club. The 26-year-old has managed to reach the quarterfinals of the women’s doubles for three straight editions of Wimbledon.

Next up for Zhang and Mertens is a much-anticipated showdown with seventh-seeded Slovenian Andreja Klepac and Chilean Alexa Guarachi, who shrugged off a slow start to beat Chinese pair Xu Yifan and Yang Zhaoxuan 6-3, 7-5.

Simona Halep of Romania reacts after her women’s singles fourth-round win at Wimbledon at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, England, July 4, 2022. /CFP

Simona Halep of Romania reacts after her women’s singles fourth-round win at Wimbledon at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, England, July 4, 2022. /CFP

In the women’s singles competition, former champion Simona Halep of Romania thrashed fourth-seeded Spaniard Paula Badosa 6-1, 6-2 to set up a meeting with Amanda Anisimova in the quarters.

“I worked really hard in the past two, three months,” said Halep, who won her first major title at the 2018 French Open but was plagued by injuries in the last few years. “I’m really happy with all that I’ve done.

“That’s why I’m starting to play better and better. I got the confidence. I really feel this is my game. I’m pushing myself to do it as much as possible. I want to improve still. So I’m really looking forward to work more and to be able to do it better.”

Rafael Nadal of Spain during his men’s singles fourth-round match at Wimbledon at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, England, July 4, 2022. /CFP

Rafael Nadal of Spain during his men’s singles fourth-round match at Wimbledon at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, England, July 4, 2022. /CFP

On the men’s side, Rafael Nadal swept into his eighth Wimbledon quarterfinals with his 18th Grand Slam match win in a row, outclassing Dutch 21st seed Botic van de Zandschulp 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (6).

The 22-time Grand Slam winner won the Australian and French Open titles back-to-back earlier this year, but the 36-year-old revealed that he played at Roland Garros with pain-killing injections prior to each match and only confirmed to play at Wimbledon after a medical procedure to ease his chronic pain in a foot was successful.

“I made a big effort to be here,” said Nadal, who played his first tournament on grass since his 2019 semifinal loss to Roger Federer at Wimbledon. “It takes a lot of mental and physical effort to try to play this tournament after the things that I went through the last couple of months.

“In a personal way, to be able to be in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon after three years of not playing here is amazing for me. So I’m very, very happy.”

Nadal’s next foe will be 11th seed Taylor Fritz, who reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinal by defeating Jason Kubler 6-3, 6-1, 6-4.

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